(photo credit: AFP/ DANIEL ROLAND)
The European Union has warned Israel that its policy of demolishing illegal Palestinians homes — including construction it has funded — is harming ties between Israel and its 28-member states.
It issued it’s warning at a closed door meeting last week between EU officials in Israel and representatives from the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Among those present were EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg Andersen and COGAT head Maj. Gen Yoav Mordechai.
Earlier this month the EU issued a very public condemnation of such activity, particularly against Beduin in the E1 area of the Ma’aleh Adumim
settlement, just outside of Jerusalem.
“The regrettable trend of confiscations and demolitions since the beginning of the year, including of EU-funded humanitarian assistance, was confirmed once again this week by demolitions of temporary shelters in Jabal al-Baba, a Bedouin community in the so-called E1 area,” the EU said.
“The EU is strongly opposed to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including demolitions and confiscations, building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, evictions and forced transfers,” it said.
“Such developments in the so-called E1 area call into question Israel's commitment towards the two-state solution,” the EU said.
Israel has argued that the structures are illegal and must therefore be removed. Right wing politicians and activists have heavily criticized COGAT and the Civil Administration for failing to deal with the growing number of illegal Palestinian structures, particularly in the area of E1 and along the Route 1 corridor as it stretches between Jerusalem and Jericho.
They have argued that the Palestinians are creating facts on the ground, to de facto take hold of portions of Area C in the West Bank for a future Palestinian state. They are particularly concerned that Palestinian terrorists may be able to use those illegal encampment to attack motorists on Route 1.
UN Special envoy to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council last week that the number of structures the IDF has demolished or confiscated across the West Bank in 2016, exceeds the total for all of 2015.
“At least 900 people have been displaced. Although many of the structures that have been demolished are not dwellings, the loss of water wells, solar panels and animal shelters has impacted the livelihoods of over 2,500 people,” he said.
Israeli-EU relations were tense last year, precisely around the issues of settlement construction and Israeli demolitions of Palestinians structures and homes. Quite a number of them were modular dwellings funded by the EU who holds that such construction falls under the rubric of humanitarian assistance.
Right wing activists in particular have targeted Faaborg Andersen, accusing him of supporting terrorism and have even published a short video comparing him to a cannibal.
A spokesman for the EU delegation in Israel said of last week’s meeting with COGAT, that is “covered a wide range of issues . Its regrettable that the partial reports that emerged from it gave a somewhat distorted impression.
Both sides “found the meeting to be constructive” and further discussion will take place in the future, he said.